March 22, 2017

FBI Honors Shubert Design Furniture and Gary Sinise Foundation

The Office of Public Affairs (FBI Headquarters) and the FBI St. Louis Division are pleased to recognize the Gary Sinise Foundation and Shubert Design Furniture with the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. The two separate entities work closely together for a single cause—to ensure the sacrifices of America’s defenders, veterans, and first responders are never forgotten. William Woods, special agent in charge (SAC) of the FBI St. Louis Division, announced the award at a ceremony held at Shubert Design Furniture.

In addition, there will be a national ceremony at FBI Headquarters on April 28, 2017. FBI Director James Comey will personally present the award to each honoree selected by FBI field offices across the country. Business owner Jim Shubert will accept the award on behalf of Shubert Design Furniture, and actor Gary Sinise will accept the award on behalf of the Gary Sinise Foundation.

The Gary Sinise Foundation, a national non-profit, creates and supports unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities. One of several outreach programs includes R.I.S.E. (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). R.I.S.E. builds specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded heroes. Each mortgage-free home features automated amenities to ease the daily challenges they often face. In addition, R.I.S.E. provides injured, wounded, ill, and/or aging defenders from all military conflicts with home modifications, mobility devices, and adapted vehicles. To date, both through Gary Sinise’s first fundraising efforts and through the work of the Gary Sinise Foundation, 51 homes have been built or are currently underway.

Shubert Design Furniture began partnering with the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2012. The Manchester, Missouri-based company donates all the interior design services and furniture for each home. Mr. Shubert also serves on the foundation’s board of directors. SAC Woods said, “Because of Jim Shubert’s initiative, law enforcement officers who are severely injured in the line of duty will also get support from the Gary Sinise Foundation. Ballwin Police Officer Michael Flamion will be the first in law enforcement to receive a specially adapted smart home from the Foundation.”

Special Agent in Charge William Woods (L) with Jim and Linda Shubert, co-owners of Shubert Design Furniture.

Special Agent in Charge William Woods (left) with Jim and Linda Shubert, co-owners of Shubert Design Furniture

Gary Sinise Foundation Executive Director Judy Otter at the podium.

Gary Sinise Foundation Executive Director Judy Otter

On July 8, 2016, Officer Flamion was shot from behind while walking to his patrol car during a routine traffic stop. The officer remains paralyzed from the neck down. The shooting happened the day after five Dallas, Texas police officers were ambushed and murdered and less than two weeks before three Baton Rouge, Louisiana police officers were gunned down.

The day after Officer Flamion was attacked, Mr. Shubert proposed to the board that the Gary Sinise Foundation extend its support to severely injured law enforcement officers. Mr. Shubert said he tries to live by the Chinese proverb “Think, then act.” He said, “So many people just talk about a situation. When you see something you are passionate about, assess it, then do something about it.”

Jim Shubert greets Officer Craig Tudor (left) and Officer Michael Flamion at the ceremony.

Jim Shubert greets Officer Craig Tudor (left) and Officer Michael Flamion at the ceremony.

The foundation is also helping another St. Louis-area police officer. On August 25, 2016, Hazelwood Police Officer Craig Tudor was responding to an emergency call when his squad car was hit from an oncoming car, forcing them to completely roll over, paralyzing the officer. Through R.I.S.E., the Tudor family will receive extensive modifications to their current home, which will allow Tudor to regain his independence.

In explaining the foundation’s mission, Gary Sinise reminds us, “Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take for granted. We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security. While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.”

Other Gary Sinise Foundation programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band, Arts & Entertainment Outreach, Serving Heroes, and First Responders Outreach. Its latest program, Soaring Valor, is sending WWII veterans to The National WWII Museum and documenting their first-hand accounts of the war.

The FBI formally created the Director’s Community Leadership Award in 1990 as the principle means to honor individuals or organizations for their outstanding service to the local community and enduring contributions to the advancement of justice.

Past St. Louis honorees (years not listed did not have a recipient):

  • 1990: Joseph Cunningham, former St. Louis Cardinals baseball player
  • 1991: Martin Mathews, Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club
  • 1993: The late Jean Leible, Neighborhood Activist
  • 1995: Pastor Harry Douma, Camp Penuel
  • 2005: Martin Mathews (two-time honoree)
  • 2006: Karen Aroesty, Anti-Defamation League
  • 2007: Pastor B. T. Rice, New Horizon Seventh Day Christian Church
  • 2008: Dave Sinclair, Dave Sinclair Auto Group
  • 2009: Bill Wilkerson, "Reach Out St. Louis!"
  • 2010: Dr. Stephen Bander, Bander Center for Medical Business Ethics
  • 2011: Anthony Thompson, Kwame Building Group
  • 2012: Kimberly Ritter, Nix Conference & Meeting Management
  • 2013: Angel Baked, a social enterprise program empowering inner city teens
  • 2014: Wehrenberg Theatres
  • 2015: Emerson’s Ferguson Forward Initiative